Klitschko Retains Heavyweight Title With KO Of Williams

By Francis Walker
Updated: December 12, 2004

Vitali Klitschko

LAS VEGAS — Danny Williams shocked the world when he became Mike Tyson’s conqueror five months ago. However, Williams punching power and determination was no match for the WBC heavyweight champion, Vitali Klitschko on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Klitschko (35-2, 34 KOs), making the first defense of the WBC title vacated after Lennox Lewis retired last year, knocked Williams (32-4, 27 KOs) down four times en route to an impressive KO stoppage.

Williams was basically a human punching bag for the champion. Klitschko landed 187 of 283 power punches thrown, and 243 of 519 punches thrown overall. Klitschko sent Williams down at the end of the first round. Williams’ face was swollen and bloody, as he would make three more solid trips to the canvas before the bout was stopped at the 1:26 mark in round eight.

At 6’ 7,” 250, Klitschko, fighting at a career-high, was more illusive than the 6’ 2,” 270 pound Williams, who appeared to be out of shape. Williams was easy pickings for Klitschko, who is has become increasingly difficult to hit in recent years.

Klitschko has had a very interesting two years. Since losing to former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis due to cuts across his left eye, Klitschko’s aggressive fighting style has made him the most exciting and perhaps most dominant heavyweight to watch in the post-Lewis era.

While Klitschko has made examples of Kirk Johnson, Corrie Sanders, and Williams, WBA and IBF heavyweight champions John Ruiz and Chris Byrd has struggled last month in separate title defenses.

Ruiz nearly lost the WBA heavyweight title to Andrew Golota, as he was penalized a point, suffered two knockdowns, and his manager/friend Norman Stone was ejected from his corner. Ruiz rallied with power shots in the final several rounds to win a close decision.

Byrd, was almost KO’d in the second round of his title defense against his friend Jameel McCline. As McCline slowly tired, Byrd rallied in the second-half of the contest to squeeze out a split-decision win.

Title Unification

A championship unification tournament between Klitschko, Ruiz, and Byrd would be very interesting considering each of the three champions have difficult styles and are considered the best in the division.

Klitschko is an action-packed fighter with power in both fists. Ruiz is a rugged boxer, who frustrates opponents with his hit and clinches style. Byrd, at 6’2,” 215 pounds is one of the smallest heavyweight champions in boxing history. He is a left-handed (southpaw) fighter who is very difficult to hit and throws punches at different angles.

Don King, who can easily unify the WBA/IBF heavyweight championships, promotes Ruiz and Byrd. Klitschko, however, has no promotional ties to King.

Last month, on a Don King promoted pay per view card at Madison Square Garden, Hasim Rahman knocked out Kali Meehan to become the WBC No.1-ranked challenger for Klitschko’s title. King would gain control of the WBC crown if Rahman were to defeat Klitschko since Rahman has a promotional deal with King.

Another interesting fight for Klitschko would be a rematch against Byrd. The two fought in April 2000. Klitschko looked as though he would coast to an easy decision victory, but quit on his stool after the eighth-round following a shoulder injury. Byrd won, via TKO, as Klitschko experienced his first professional loss.

Klitschko-Byrd II would be a better fight since both fighters have unquestionably improved since their first bout. Klitschko proved his heart and solid chin during his mysterious loss to Lewis. Byrd went through both David Tua and Evander Holyfield to win the IBF heavyweight title in Dec. 2002.